Every year, millions of family members serve as caregivers for elderly loved ones who are aging in place at home, usually a parent. But the physical and emotional demands of caregiving can become overwhelming, especially when the senior’s health is in decline. Over time, stress can cause caregiver fatigue, notably if the caregiver has their own household to manage.
In the worst-case scenario, a clinical condition known as “caregiver burnout” can occur, which can affect their health and wellbeing. To help ensure that doesn’t happen, here are 5 ways to combat caregiver fatigue.
Signs of Caregiver Fatigue
These are some of the classic signs of caregiver fatigue:
- Feeling resentful towards the one receiving the care
- Anxiety, depression, guilt and irritability
- Trouble sleeping
- Feeling tired and run down
- Neglecting responsibilities and relationships
- Not enjoying leisure activities as before
- Abusing alcohol or drugs
- Experiencing frequent health problems
If not properly addressed, their marriage, other relationships, and job performance can all suffer. Fortunately, there are several ways for a caregiver to stay refreshed and avoid caregiver fatigue.
We’d all love to have more help and encouragement, but there are other ways to find validation for your caregiving efforts outside of those. Your loved one may not always verbally show that they appreciate your efforts, but they do. With that said, look for other forms of validation, like:
- Accept what you can control. You don’t have superhuman powers, so if your loved one has something like cancer, you can’t make it go away. What you can do is show them how much they’re appreciated by helping them stay at home for as long as possible.
- Focus on the big picture. Your loved ones were there for you growing up, and probably made a lot of sacrifices for your happiness and wellbeing. Now it’s your turn to return the favor. Stay focused on why you’re providing care.
- Celebrate small victories. Reward yourself when your efforts lead to something positive, like getting your loved one to take a walk. Treat yourself to a nice dinner out or spa day.
2. Know Your Limitations
No matter how much time and effort you put into caregiving, their health will eventually deteriorate. And, that’s not on you. All of us have limitations, and the aging process is one example. Accept what you can’t do, and instead focus on what you can. Set realistic daily or weekly goals, manage your time by breaking up tasks into doable portions. Remember always the value that your caregiving provides.
3. Stay Physically and Mentally Sharp
You’re not doing your loved one any favors if you’re exhausted. You’ll probably be inpatient with them, which will make you both feel guilty later. To stay sharp, use these pointers:
- Exercise regularly. Exercise several times a week by walking, taking a Yoga class, bicycling, or swimming. The activity will keep your body strong, reduce stress and anxiety, and help you sleep better.
- Eat right. Eat a balanced diet every day containing the healthy foods your body needs.
- Get an annual physical. See your doctor annually for a complete and thorough checkup. Tell them about any problems you may be experiencing due to your caregiving responsibilities.
4. Join a Support Group
There are several local or online caregiver support groups that you can join to help stay refreshed and focused. You’ll discover that you’re not alone, and that there are many experienced family caregivers out there with good advice to be shared. If you don’t have time during the day to get to a local support group, the Internet offers 24/7 opportunities whenever you do.
5. Get Some Outside Assistance
Asking for caregiving assistance for your loved one when you need a break is nothing to be ashamed of. Within your community, there are reliable caregivers available, including:
- Senior programs. Most communities have senior-focused resources like transportation, adult daycare, in-home companionship volunteers, meal deliveries and more.
- Family and friends. Ask a nearby family member or close friend to step in for a few days so that you can get recharged. Most will understand the challenges that you’re up against, and will gladly help out.
- Hire a respite caregiver. There are licensed home care agencies in your area that supply professional respite caregivers. A few well-spent dollars will give you some time to recharge your “batteries”.
Affordable Respite Care When You Need It Most
Caregiving can be physically and emotionally demanding. When you need a break, contact First In Care, and one of our reliable respite caregivers will pick up right where you left off. We offer families expert, compassionate home health care that provides seniors with the independence, dignity and self-esteem they deserve. Our affordable in-home services include meals, shopping, personal hygiene, light housekeeping, transportation and companionship, all delivered by highly screened and trained aids to put your mind at-ease. To learn more about First In Care’s family trusted, senior home health care services in Manatee County, FL, visit: www.firstincare.com now.